How long do car batteries last?

Last updated February 24, 2023

Car batteries are integral components in any car – whether petrol, diesel or electric. Your car’s battery provides the power that keeps its engine moving.

Batteries are used to power many everyday devices and objects, such as watches, phones, TV remotes – and even cars. However, all batteries have a finite lifespan and therefore, will need to be replaced sooner or later.

If you notice that your car’s battery is starting to fail, you’ll have to decide whether it’s worth replacing – or whether you’d prefer to sell your car in its current state.

So, how long can you expect a car battery to last? What can you do to prolong their lifespan – and is it worth replacing a dead car battery? Read our guide to find out the answers to all these questions and more.

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How long should a car battery last?

A car’s battery will deteriorate over time until it can no longer provide the power required to start the engine. This generally takes between three and five years, with various factors such as driving habits and the frequency of usage influencing the rate at which the battery ages.

Factors that affect car battery life

There are numerous factors that can shorten or increase the life of your car’s batteries:

  • Where you live

    Car batteries use a chemical reaction involving heat to generate electricity, but this also increases the rate of degradation. If you live in a cooler, more northern locale, your battery will be more inclined to last up to five years, whereas in hotter climates, its lifespan may be closer to three years.

  • Malfunctioning charging systems

    It isn’t just electric car batteries that need to be charged; petrol and diesel car batteries should also be charged at the appropriate intervals.

    Persistent over or under-charging will have an impact on how long car batteries last - and allowing any car battery to go completely dead will take a big chunk out of its lifespan, even though you can recharge it and put the dead battery back in service.

  • Excessive vibration

    Vibration in your car will cause internal battery parts to break down. This can be minimised by utilising special hold-down hardware to secure your battery in place and prevent it from moving vigorously.

  • Wrong battery

    Not every battery is created equal. Therefore, you need to ensure that you get a car battery that properly fits your car’s make and model. Using the incorrect battery can negatively impact your car’s electrical system and cause major damage.

How do you know when it’s time for a new battery?

Weak batteries can present themselves in a variety of ways. If you’ve found yourself asking ‘how long do car batteries last?’, it’s important to keep an eye out for signs that yours is failing. If your motor cranks the engine slowly or the headlights begin to dim, these are all clear signs that your battery is beginning to fail.

What can I do to extend my car’s battery life?

  • Don’t use electronic accessories, such as the lights or AC when your car’s engine isn’t running.
  • Clean the battery regularly.
  • Test your battery voltage.
  • Get your car serviced on a regular basis.
  • Avoid long periods of inactivity.

What you should do if your battery dies?

  • Charge it back up.
  • Jump start your car.
  • Get a second opinion. Your car battery may be dead for good - and it might be time for a replacement.
  • Replace your battery if necessary.

How much does a new car battery cost?

This will depend on the kind of battery you require, but replacing your car’s battery will typically set you back between £100 and £300 - with some more expensive batteries exceeding this price range.

How long should an electric car battery last?

Electric car batteries are a little different from traditional car batteries, as they are the are the sole source of power for their vehicles. So, how long do electric car batteries last? They should last longer than regular car batteries - up to around 10 years on average.

Electric car batteries are made from lithium-ion, just like the batteries in smartphones and computers - and they can degrade in similar conditions, such as extreme temperatures, overcharging and over-usage.

How long do car batteries last when not used?

Car batteries need to be used on a regular basis to preserve their lifespan and function. If your battery is brand new, you can probably leave it unused for about two weeks before it goes flat. However, after this point, there is a good chance that your battery will go flat much faster.

Disposing of car batteries

Car batteries are classed as hazardous waste, so you can’t legally dispose of them at home. If you have your battery replaced by a specialist, they should dispose of the old one for you.

However, if you’ve performed this process yourself, you should recycle your battery at a designated recycling point. Enter your postcode into Recycle Now’s recycling centre locator to find your nearest site.